by SS Mata Manidir Kaur Khalsa, Herndon VA
The Age of Aquarius is the age of knowledge and experience. As we enter this age as ministers, we have a powerful tool for educating ourselves. The bridgeline course, Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma, celebrates 11 years this fall. We interviewed SS Mata Mandir Kaur Khalsa about her journey developing and facilitating this wonderful course.
Q: How was Journey to the Heart of Sikh Dharma created and how did you become the facilitator?
MMK: In 2000, Siri Sikdar Sahiba Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur was working on a minister training course. My daughter, Saraswati Kaur (former Sikh Dharma Minister Newsletter editor), suggested me to help develop the course because I was involved in an wonderful training program called clinical pastoral education. Once we finished the development, I was so excited about it that I wanted to have an ongoing involvement. Our course started with 10 people and we have had an average of 8-14 students each year. For a few years, we had two courses running simultaneously. Over time, this course evolved to be a wonderful way for anyone with an interest in deepening their connection with the Sikh path to participate in this journey.
Q: How has the course evolved over the years?
MMK: Even though the program started as a minister’s training program, this course has always been an experiential journey to create a sense of community. We have had ministers take this course, and a number of people who take the course go on to become Sikh Dharma ministers. More and more, this course has become a vehicle for people who are new to the Dharma; it is a place for people to feel welcomed, befriended, and to learn about this technology in a deep and personal way. I have really enjoyed working with all of our participants. People who are new to the Dharma have an incredible sense of enthusiasm…everything is a Wow! moment for them. The people who have been on this path for many years bring their wisdom and experience, so we all feed and enrich each other. We also find that many people taking teacher training want to follow up by learning more about the relationship between Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma lifestyle.
Q: Tell us about the seva projects.
MMK: As this is an experiential course, we include “homework” assignments, including written reflections on the various topics. All participanst also develop their own seva projects. By serving, the students make real contributions to the Dharma and to others, thereby experiencing the real “juice” of seva. People have set up children’s gurdwara programs, visited nursing homes, served or established free kitchens, set up a gurdwara sound system, taught free yoga and meditation classes to special populations in their communities. A few of our past participants are now helping to teach this course, which is another great way for them to continue serving.
Q: As a bridgeline course, how do you develop a sense of community?
MMK: The bridgeline is really a wonderful Aquarian tool for connection. We create a sacred space for each participant to share and to give and receive helpful feedback. Our great team of facilitators is diverse, incredibly knowledgeable, inspired, and dedicated to sharing the technology of Sikh Dharma. We have also developed a “buddy system” for participants to work with each other on their homework assignments together outside of the course. People feel very bonded to each other during and after this course. I also am inspired that we have a number of Punjabi Sikhs who share their love of Guru, of Shabad and of Seva, while at the same time, opening up to practicing Kundalini Yoga and meditation. Our course is a cross-cultural experience in so many ways, because we have such a diverse group.
Q: How is this course designed to support people in their transition to the Aquarian Age?
MMK: Our course gives people a chance to experience a sense of community; it is a place to have our ideas nurtured and validated. We experience ways to deepen our relationship with Shabd Guru and learn about surrender. Sikh Dharma is more than a religion. Its purpose is to teach people how to go deep into their spirit. We also deeply honor each person’s unique evolution and contribution, how they connect with and express their spirituality.
Q: What have you learned from this course and what are you most excited about for this upcoming course in September 2011?
MMK: I have learned to become more inclusive about my definition of what it means to be a Sikh. Not everyone can be a Sikh in the same way. I think my job as facilitator is to see the God in each person and to help people feel that wherever they are at in their journey is perfect. I just love to facilitate this course because I learn so much from both the students and the presenters, and am constantly reminded of how precious and rich the path of Sikh Dharma is in my life.
I am very excited to welcome back our wonderful presenters. We also have four new presenters, including a new module for this upcoming series on Prayer to be taught by Siri Sikdar Sahiba Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa, plus Yogi Amandeep Singh (Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma), Mata Mandir Singh (Gurbani, Gurmukhi, Naad Yoga and Nitnem) and Hari Kaur (Amrit). I am so grateful for all the wonderful presenters who are sharing their love for this Sikh Dharma path. We welcome anyone with a longing to participate.
For more information and to register to take the Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma course
About the Author
SS Mata Mandir Kaur Khalsa has been an ordained Minister of Sikh Dharma since 1984. She is a professionally-trained pastoral counselor. Her compassion, wisdom and playful style remind us of the deep and loving connections that are possible on our own unique path of spiritual evolution. Her knowledge and deep love of Sikh Dharma serve to inform and inspire her students. Mata Mandir is passionately committed to facilitating connection and spiritual growth, both in the class and in her life. She enjoys the blessings of her 25 year marriage to GuruGanesha Singh, her children, Saraswati Kaur and Akal Sahai Singh, and her three adorable granddaughters.